Yeast and BakingLessons



Liquids are an important ingredient in bread making. The type of liquid used and the temperature it is used at will have a great impact on the overall quality of your yeast-leavened bread.

  • Liquid hydrates and dissolves the yeast granules.
  • Liquid blends and binds ingredients together.
  • Liquid mixes with flour to form gluten.

Types of Liquids

Water and milk are the most commonly used liquids in breads.


  • Water is recommended for rehydrating, or dissolving yeast.
  • You can use water directly from your tap. It is best to use water of medium hardness (50-100ppm) for breadmaking. Too hard or too soft water, as well as water high in fluoride or chlorine, will result in short, stubby loaves. If you suspect you have a water problem, try substituting bottled or distilled water.
  • Breads made with water as the only liquid will have a more open texture, a more wheaty flavor and a crisper crust.


  • Milk creates breads which are richer and have a more velvety texture.
  • Milk makes a softer crust that will brown more quickly due to the sugar and butterfat in milk.
  • Milk also improves the keeping quality of breads and contributes nutrients.
  • It used to be that scalding milk was necessary to kill bacteria that might affect the yeast activity and to alter a protein in the milk that played havoc with the gluten structure in bread. However, pasteurization has protected us from harmful bacteria and has altered the proteins, so scalding milk is no longer necessary.
  • If you are lactose intolerant you can substitute soymilk, or other milk substitutes,  but there will be a flavor and texture difference in your product.
  • Buttermilk, yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream are also used as part of the liquids in some breads.

Other liquids used in bread making:


  • Juices may be added for specific flavor enhancements to your bread.
  • Fruit and vegetable juices or purees can replace water. If you use vegetable juice, it may contain salt, so you may need to reduce the amount of salt in a recipe. Likewise, fruit juice may contain a lot of sugar so you may need to reduce the amount of sugar called for in your recipe.


  • Sometimes eggs can be used as a part of the liquid.
  • Do not heat the eggs with the other liquids, since they may begin to cook. Warm to room temperature before using.
  • Eggs add richness, tenderness and color, as well as nutrients.

Fats and liquid sweeteners can also add moisture to your dough

Usage Tips for Liquids

How to measure liquids correctly

Liquid measuring containers come in several sizes and have a lip above the measuring line to prevent spills. They are translucent or transparent for easy reading. To use, place the cup on a level surface with the measurement line at eye level for accurate reading.

For more Baking Tips visit our Tips & Troubleshooting section.


Since yeast is a living organism, accurate liquid temperature is of utmost importance as it directly influences the yeast activity. Liquid ingredients can be mixed together and brought to the correct temperature in a small saucepan over low heat or in a mixing bowl in a microwave oven. If liquids are too hot, there is a risk of killing the yeast or over-stimulating it to multiply too quickly, thus causing the dough to overproof (rise inconsistently). On the other hand, if liquids are too cool, the yeast will not activate properly and the dough will rise too slowly or not at all.

Using a thermometer is the most accurate way to determine the correct liquid temperature. Any thermometer will work as long as it measures temperatures between 75°F and 130°F.

The appropriate temperature depends on the bread making method being used.

Traditional baking

  • Dissolve dry yeast in a water temperatures between 110°F – 115°F.
  • If yeast is added directly to the dry ingredients, liquid temperatures should be 120°F – 130°F.
  • Use 90°F – 95°F liquids for cake yeast

Bread Machine baking

  • Use 80°F liquids for bread machine baking